The Magnificent Seven is a 7 Out of 10

The Magnificent Seven is a 7 Out of 10

Garrett Wheeler, SPN Editor-in-Chief

The Magnificent Seven is one of my most anticipated films of the fall season. With direction by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) and starring the likes of Denzel Washington (Training Day, The Equalizer) and Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Parks and Recreation), this film excited me, even though it is a remake of a classic western and might not live up to the original.

I was not disappointed. I left the theater with a smile because The Magnificent Seven is a lot of fun to watch.

The Magnificent Seven reboots the 1960 original, itself a retelling of the 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai. This newest version’s notorious villain, Bartholomew Bogue (played by Peter Sarsgaard), walks into a small western town with his gang, burns down the church and kills many innocent people. Emma Cullen, played by Haley Bennett, is one of those affected by this attack, so she calls upon Sheriff Chisolm for help.

Chisolm, played by Denzel Washington, starts the Magnificent Seven. He and characters played by Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’nofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Martin Sensmeier go to stop this evil force.

This plot is nothing new. It permeates almost every Western in existence. Even movies like Kung Fu Panda 3 and The Dark Knight Rises have storylines similar to this one. However, what this movie does with its story is done pretty well.

For starters, the cast  is phenomenal. The multitude of stars is astounding and, for the most part, they all pull off solid performances. Bennett does a great job as the female lead, D’nofrio is hilarious with his quivering high-pitched voice, Saarsgard does a great slimy villain, and Hawke gives a powerful, emotionally damaged performance with a backstory that I won’t spoil.

However, the primary stars of this film are Washington and Pratt. Washington, the Best Actor Oscar winner in 1993, is one of the greatest ever, so it’s no question that he’s a presence to behold on screen. Watching him in this film is electrifying. Pratt is solid, but there are times when his performance feels a little too “Chris Pratt” because his delivery seems a little too modern. There are moments when I could tell Pratt was merely playing himself. Still, he does a fantastic job and holds a lot of charisma in his role.

The problem with this cast doesn’t have to do with the actors themselves but the characters they play. Not all characters have a spotlight on them all the time. Because of this, a majority of the characters are underdeveloped. All of the characters have rushed arcs, resulting in none of them being fully fleshed out. Even Hawke’s character, who has the most dramatic backstory, feels thin. These characters have motivations, but they aren’t fully developed enough for an emotional investment.

On a positive note, the technical side of this film is first-rate. The cinematography is beautiful, the sets are magnificent, and the score is phenomenal. However, the most impressive technical element of this film is sound design. Every little sound, from a gunshot to the townspeople walking through the town, culminates in a world that feels like it could’ve actually existed. The Magnificent Seven might get an Oscar nomination for Best Sound Design; it’s that impressive.

The biggest problem with this movie is that most of it is not very engaging. The reason why is an anomaly. It might’ve been because of the underdeveloped characters or the familiar story. Whatever it was, the film took a while to grip me.

That being said, the last 40 minutes of the film shine. Not only do some of the characters emerge in different ways, but the movie ends with one of the best action scenes of the year. The combination of phenomenal stunts, the consistently powerful sound effects, and the emotional stakes all culminate in an exciting, action-packed finale that’s worth the price of admission alone.

The Magnificent Seven is not meant to be an original. The movie does everything in its power to entertain its audience. That makes it a success overall.